One-quarter of the way through the Clippers’ season, taking stock of the team is like looking into a funhouse mirror — each glance revealing something different, even contradictory.
Their roller-coaster ride continued Wednesday when the Clippers, one of the worst performers in close games this season, had every answer for defending champion Denver down the stretch of a 111-102 victory that moved them to 10-10, the first time they have been at .500 in a month.
It was the Clippers’ first win against Denver since Jan. 11, 2022, and only their second win in their last 13 games in the series.
And it came against a full-strength Nuggets team that, while missing three key players only nine days earlier, had waxed the Clippers on the same Crypto.com Arena court.
This time the Clippers secured their second consecutive double-digit comeback by holding Denver to 20 fourth-quarter points, outscoring the Nuggets by 12.
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In one key moment, the kind that largely had been missing in crunch time in past matchups against the Nuggets, Paul George collected a rebound off a Nikola Jokic miss and James Harden found Kawhi Leonard for a short jumper. On the next possession Harden stole a pass by Denver’s Jamal Murray and outran a full-body dive by Aaron Gordon to collect a loose ball and find Leonard on a fastbreak for a dunk and a 99-93 lead with 3:36 to play. Denver needed a timeout.
George scored a team-high 25 points, while Harden had 20 points and a season-best 11 assists. Leonard scored 17 points.
If the teams’ history wasn’t ominous enough, the first quarter supplied even more angst: The Clippers made fewer field goals (nine) than Denver had assists (12), a 15-point gap in Denver’s favor explained by extreme shooting variance — Denver made eight of 10 three-pointers, the Clippers one of nine. It called to mind what coach Tyronn Lue said before tipoff.
“We play too many games down, so guys got to be ready when our number’s called,” Lue said.
They were ready by the second quarter.
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Source link : https://sports.yahoo.com/clippers-return-500-rare-win-054144114.html
Author : LA Times
Publish date : 2023-12-07 05:41:44
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